As a product of a very large creative family, I enjoy working in various art forms, even though my personal art of choice has always been writing.
Even so, like most creatives, I don’t like limiting myself to one area. I have always had great fun with photography, and I also enjoy digital imaging.
The Internet is fabulous because it allows a place where our arts of choice can intermingle. Tumblr. has always struck me as being a highly visual platform, so it would seem to be a good venue for sharing images.
I was a television writer back in the day, then a parent on hiatus, and now I’ve become an inveterate blogger who is working at being a self publishing novelist.
I believe culture should be shared not locked up behind copyright, which makes me a free culture advocate, fighting to protect the public domain and copyright reform.
Marshall McLuhan is famous for his quote about television: “The medium is the message.” In fact it began with radio. My father grew up in the radio generation, I grew up in the television generation, my child has grown up in the Internet generation.
The earlier medium McLuhan warned of began sweeping societal change as broadcast mediums wreaked huge changes on how people lived and participated in the world. But these one way broadcast mediums are destined to be succeeded by the Internet, because it is a two-way medium. The Internet has the capacity to allow humans to resume cultural participation as people share our culture and find our voices.
I first became interested in the Internet because of the incredible opportunities in self publishing it offers. Being able to self publish a blog that can be accessed internationally is staggering to someone whose first school newspaper was made possible by a mimeograph machine. But all the creative media is changing, the barriers to participation in our culture are dropping, and ushering in a cultural golden age.
But it isn’t just the arts that can benefit; the Internet is also a tool that can be used to correct injustices.
Advances in technology have brought us unprecedented access to knowledge and more important, made it breathtakingly easy for citizens to share information. These are powerful tools that can help citizens effect electoral and perhaps even governmental reforms. The problem is that these same tools also make it breathtakingly easy for government to monitor us. In recent years I’ve learned the Canadian government spied on that same Marshall McLuhan because of his radical ideas.
Governmental transparency is necessary for real democracy, but so is personal privacy. Some people say that only people with something to hide need privacy, but that is simply not true. Humans need privacy. What we say in our own homes, what we say to our children, our parents, our spouse or our friends, loved ones, information we must share with our doctors, lawyers and priests must be protected.
It is crucial that personal privacy be respected, and human rights in the digital realm need to be treated with the same gravity that human rights in the real world should be. While digital technology is becoming increasingly important to our lives, there have been clear indications that our governments the world over have the attitude that human rights afforded to us in the real world need not apply in the digital realm. That’s wrong.
The twenty first century has ushered in an era where civil rights in both worlds have been under unremitting attack, and we are closer than ever to achieving an Orwellian future.
The Internet has grown so fast and so far because of all the things it offers, but it clearly requires protection from corporate attempts to lock it down and take ownership of it. This is why I find myself spending so much time advocating for Internet Freedom. Frankly I’d rather be following creative pursuits.
One of the essential problems facing us today is that the mainstream media most of us still believe offers us factual news coverage has become part of the entertainment industry. What they cover and how they cover it is informed by ratings, the bottom line, and self interest. The public’s “right to know” comes a poor fourth. And of course today Woodward and Bernstein wouldn’t have brought down a corrupt presidency; more likely they would have been treated like Bradley Manning, and most likely have ended up in Guantanamo Bay.
If we can keep the Internet from being suborned, it offers humanity the first real shot at practical democracy through networking. Maybe I’m naïve but I am a big believer in democracy. Whether we use it or lose it remains to be seen.